Year in Review 2020, Biggest Sports Stories: Mumbai Indians with record fifth IPL crown

International cricket had resumed in June with England hosting West Indies in a Test series, but the hype surrounding the IPL was certainly a welcome relief for cricket fans and enthusiasts amid a deadly pandemic.

FP Sports December 27, 2020 17:47:23 IST
Year in Review 2020, Biggest Sports Stories: Mumbai Indians with record fifth IPL crown

The victorious Mumbai Indians team lift the trophy after winning the tournament for a fifth time. Sportzpics

Editor's NoteIt's that time of the year already. Every end comes with an opportunity to look back and reflect, and while 2020, by general consensus, was a forgettable affair, sports did manage to conjure some moments of lasting relevance. From Liverpool ending their Premier League title wait to the mighty Indian cricket team crashing like never before in Adelaide to the passing away of some of sports' all-time greats, the field of play, even in a truncated calendar, produced a fair share of shock, surprise, and awe. In Firstpost's latest series, we take a look at some of the biggest sporting moments of 2020.

In what was a unique and an ‘unusual’ year for many across the world, Mumbai Indians (MI) defied the ‘odds’ to clinch a record fifth Indian Premier League (IPL) in November.

Yes, the tournament, which started on 19 September, had a series of firsts - the first time top Indian players took the field in more than six months since coronavirus wreaked havoc in March, the first time the tournament was held without spectators, and so forth. Yet, only MI, and no other team, would have seen this ‘first’ coming - the first time MI clinched an IPL in an ‘even’ year. Their previous four titles came in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019, all years ending in odd numbers, but that jinx was broken when they beat Delhi Capitals (DC) in the final at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on 10 November.

Back in March this year, the IPL was first suspended till 15 April amidst the nationwide lockdown in the battle against coronavirus . The next step was inevitable, but again it was postponed, this time indefinitely.

Year in Review 2020 Biggest Sports Stories Mumbai Indians with record fifth IPL crown

The victorious Mumbai Indians team lift the trophy after winning the tournament for a fifth time. Sportzpics

However, in what was eventually a blessing in disguise in July, the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled to be held in Australia in October was postponed, paving way for the BCCI to conduct the IPL. Soon, it was confirmed in August that the tournament would be held in UAE across three venues - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah from 19 September to 10 November.

International cricket had resumed in June with England hosting West Indies in a Test series, but the hype surrounding the IPL was certainly a welcome relief for cricket fans and enthusiasts amid a deadly pandemic.

It was a closely-fought tournament this time, and for the most part, all seven teams barring Chennai Super Kings (CSK) were in contention to make the playoffs. However, MI were on an entirely different level. Suryakumar Yadav (480 runs) once again showed his class, while Ishan Kishan (516) enjoyed his breakout season, marking himself out as one for the future.

Even Quinton de Kock went on to register his second-best ever overall figures in a single edition of the IPL in terms of runs scored, aggregating 503 runs this season.

What stood out for MI was their all-round consistency. The top-order fired regularly to get off to fantastic starts, Boult and Bumrah were lethal at the death, Hardik Pandya unleashed his insane finishing abilities, and overall, MI hardly seemed to lose rhythm throughout the campaign.

Before the tournament, there was a lot of talk on spinners potentially dominating due to the turning nature of the pitches, but it was otherwise, with the top four wicket-takers being seamers or pacers.

Yes, apart from playing at the iconic Wankhede Stadium, Rohit Sharma’s side was missing the services of Lasith Malinga after the Sri Lankan decided to be with his ailing father, but the pair of Bumrah and Boult kept firing all cylinders, and the Lankan’s absence was hardly felt. The duo, in fact, contributed a combined wicket tally of 52.

Although MI started their campaign with a defeat to CSK in the opening match, they rediscovered their rhythm soon, with five consecutive wins after two defeats in their opening three games.

And amidst all their domination, there was still the Rohit Sharma factor. Midway through the tournament, the MI skipper suffered a hamstring injury against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) on 18 October, which meant that he would miss his team’s next four matches. Rohit had an average IPL, having scored just two fifties. His absence meant Kieron Pollard taking over as MI skipper.

Pollard would go on to lead MI in four matches, winning three of them and taking MI to the playoffs. Rohit returned to play the Qualifier 1 and the final, despite chaos and confusion surrounding his fitness. MI faced DC in the final, the team they had beaten comfortably in Qualifier 1.

DC won the toss, and went on to put 156-7 on board, thanks to fifties from Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant. Boult would end up with figures of 3-30, and in reply, Rohit's 51-ball 68, studded with five fours and four sixes, placed MI on course for the title. Ishan Kishan and Krunal Pandya took the side over the finish line with five wickets and eight balls to spare, scripting a fairytale fifth IPL title.

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